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Monster Gator Pulled out of St. Johns River System

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    Original: Halloween began like any other for Tres Ammerman but ended with him harvesting the longest alligator taken in the state of Florida — a 14-foot, 3-inch monster from Lake Washington.

That a gator of that size came from the lake west of Melbourne was a bit of a surprise given the hunting pressure applied every gator season.

Ryan Stratton, manager of Action Gun and Archery in Melbourne, was surprised to hear that the monumental catch came from Lake Washington.

"Alligator hunting was really popular this year," said Stratton, who sells a variety of gator hunting gear in his shop. "The gators were really skittish this year on that lake."

Ammerman just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

"I've been hunting gators for five years, and I've never seen anything like this," Ammerman said. "I just can't believe it."

His record gator was about three inches longer than the existing record. A 14-foot, 5/8-incher was captured on Lake Monroe in Seminole County in 1997.

Ammerman, a 49-year-old Orlando nurse, spent the early evening trick-or-treating with his family before heading to Melbourne to fill his last remaining alligator harvest tag of the season.

This news story caught my eye because I just finished a cruise on the St. Johns and I was expecting there to be alligators everywhere and there weren't.  All I saw was one baby alligator nestled up on a beach and quite frankly, it was unimpressive.  But then Tres Ammerman hops in his boat one Halloween night, probably filled to the brim with candy corn and bite-size Snickers, and hooks into Nessie the Loch Ness Monster here.  So I guess the gators were out there and I just missed them.  Bummer.

Stinks to be an alligator during gator season though huh? One minute you're swimming around Lake Washington happy as a clam and picking some old lady's poodle out of your teeth, and the next minute Tres Ammerman jams a harpoon in your eyeball and turns you into a fancy purse.  Oh fate is a cruel mistress indeed, wouldn't you agree Mr. Alligator?

P.S. Tres Ammerman did the reputation of male nurses everywhere a serious solid by catching this thing, didn't he? Bravo, Tres, bravo.